Building Computers in Fifth Grade: Foundation for the next Linus Torvalds or Andy Hertzfeld

This year I am going to create a class for our after school program that shows students how to build computers from scratch using spare parts from other computers. I think working with the computer today is like rebuilding old cars of the past. Find parts for that Chevy and make it run better than it did before. No need for for new parts, go to the junk yard. Anyhow, I have been experimenting this year building thin clients and servers from computers that people throw away and thought this would be a great skill for my students to learn. Many fifth graders are more tech savvy than most adults these days and have no problem assembling a stereo system. We will learn about the different components of a computer system and how everything goes together. We will use Linux as our primary operating system since it will work on virtually any system and is free providing all the software needed for office applications, music creation, art, and photo processing etc. These skills will help to give access to technology in our low economic community where technology is not readily available. Empowering students to create something from bare minimum resources builds confidence and prepares them for the future. Who knows, there might might be the next Bill Gates, Linus Torvalds, or Andy Hertzfeld in my community. This is a totally green project using legacy technology to teach skills for the future. This is another way to teach recycling valuable resources.

1. Teach components of a computer system.
2. Assemble a basic computer.
3. Install an operating system
4. Build classroom labs that are virtually trouble free.
5. Build computers for our community.
6. Create a community of learners providing technology for our school at no cost to our school or district other than the electricity and a room for us to use.

Oh! By the way, is there anyone out there in the Los Angeles and Orange County area in California with computers that need recycling? Computers with a P3 or P4 processors would be preferable and they don't need to work. I'll come and pick them up. It never hurts to ask.

Please, give suggestions and ideas on how to make this a valuable experience for my students.

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Tags: Computer, Elementary, Labs, Open, Science, Software, Source


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